Even as President Donald Trump says a disputed Republican memo “totally vindicates ‘Trump’ ” of any collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, not all members of his party want to see the probe end.
Three Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee said questions raised in the memo alleging bias in Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election do not undermine the need for the investigation.
“It doesn’t end that need at all,” Representative Chris Stewart of Utah said on the “Fox News Sunday” program. “It would be a mistake for anyone to suggest that the special counsel shouldn’t complete his work.”
Representative Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas and former CIA officer, said on ABC’s “This Week” program that the investigation should continue.
“I want to stress, Bob Mueller should be allowed to turn over every rock, pursue every lead so that we can have trust in knowing what actually the Russians did or did not do,” Hurd said.
Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said questions about a dossier used to help secure a warrant to spy on a U.S. citizen have nothing do with other aspects of the investigation examining possible links between Russia and Trump’s campaign.
“There’s going to be a Russia probe, even without a dossier,” Gowdy said. Gowdy is the only Republican on the intelligence panel who’s seen the classified intelligence used to write the Nunes memo.
Even as some Republicans defended the need for the investigation, Democratic lawmakers circulated talking points on Saturday saying House Republicans, having voted in committee to make public the so-called Nunes memo, are “now part and parcel to an organized effort to obstruct” Mueller’s investigation by releasing the memo.
“Until now, we could only really accuse House Republicans of ignoring the President’s open attempts to block the Russia investigation,” Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee said in the six-page letter.
The document provided a point-by-point rebuttal to the Republican memo. That memo, from Representative Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was released on Friday after approval to do so from Trump.
“With the release of the Nunes memo — a backhanded attempt to cast doubt on the origins of the Special Counsel’s investigation — we can only conclude that House Republicans are complicit in the effort to help the President avoid accountability for his actions and for the actions of his campaign,” the Democrats said.
The letter, obtained by Bloomberg, comes as the official House Intelligence panel rebuttal to Nunes’s memo remains classified pending a vote by the committee, likely to come as soon as Monday, and approval by Trump. Saturday’s talking points were prefaced with an introduction by New York Representative Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, who termed the Nunes memo “deeply misleading.”
Nunes’s memo purports to show that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department improperly relied upon a dossier paid for by Democrats to obtain a surveillance warrant on Carter Page, a one-time low-level adviser to the Trump campaign.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Nunes memo needed to be released because rights may have been violated. Trump early Saturday tweeted that the memo “totally vindicates” him in the Russia probe, which he called “the Russian Witch Hunt” and “an American disgrace.”
The president, who’s spending the weekend at his resort in Florida, returned to Twitter Saturday night to lament that “nobody” talks about job numbers and rising wages, “only Russia, Russia, Russia.”
Saturday’s Democratic rebuttal contended that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court activities discussed in the Nunes memo predated Rod Rosenstein’s tenure as deputy attorney general and therefore can’t be used as a basis to remove him, as some Republican lawmakers and conservative critics have urged.
The Democrats said the FISA court found probable cause to believe that Page was an agent of the Russian government, and that nothing in the Nunes memo disproved anything in a dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele used as part of the FISA application.
“The whole point here is not to be accurate, the point is to be misleading,” California Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
Asked whether the memo backs of Trump’s contention on Twitter that he has been vindicated, Schiff said, “not at all.”
— With assistance by Ryan Beene, and Ben Brody
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